Brian Edwards Media

On Relentless Positivity


The new Leader of the Opposition has undertaken to be ‘relentlessly positive’ between now and the Election in September.

If her appearance on yesterday’s ‘Q & A’ with Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis is anything to go by, his role is to be ‘relentlessly negative’.

‘Relentless’ is generally a negative term: ‘relentless rain, relentless suffering’ etc. One would not commonly refer to ‘relentless good weather’ or ‘relentless happiness’. The same is true of ‘relentlessly positive’. It sounds incongruous, fake.

To illustrate her relentless positivity, Jacinda Ardern smiled relentlessly during her interview with Jessica Mutch on yesterday’s Q &A. That seemed incongruous too, with ‘fake’ not far behind.

Between now and September Jacinda will be relentlessly feted by her adoring supporters. It will be tempting for her to hear little else. I would counsel against that. That dry, laconic, southern man currently running the show comes pretty close to the Kiwi version of the ideal joker. He wouldn’t have looked out of place in the front passenger seat with Barry Crump.


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  1. I think “relentlessly” works rather well with “positive” in this instance after all, incongruous or not, it got you commenting on it.

    • You can be ‘relentlessly positive’ After I spent a month in China about a decade ago I commented to a friend afterwards: “I could never live in China. The relentlessly positive reports on the English language television would drive me nuts within a few weeks.”

  2. Yes Brian, but 50% of us are women and don’t relate to that Southern man type.

    It’s hugely refreshing to see a happy, positive young woman who is showing just how competent she is in handling the media…………..she wasn’t relentlessly positive, by standing up for all woman against Mark Richardson.

    There is a lot more to her than her happy, positive face. She’s very smart and this has come across in all her interviews to date.

    • 2.1

      Anne Kerr: “She [Jacinda] is very smart?” Not if she’s the same vapid young woman I used to listen to inevitably failing to score hits in the House…Paula Bennett will wipe the floor with her…even Wooden Top English will slice and dice her…

      • 2.1.1

        Ha! I remember the same words being said about John Key. He’ll be no match for Helen, they said. Listen to him mangle the English language, haw haw, they laughed. Then they watched him win three elections, pretty-much powerless to do anything about it.

        Oh what a short memory one gets when they’re trying to score baseless political points…

  3. I’m sure Jacinda can ooze a bit of gravitas for you Brian.

  4. “That dry, laconic, southern man currently running the show comes pretty close to the Kiwi version of the ideal joker.” Really? From which decade? That image of NZ is tired and Adern is showing it.

    I agree that the ‘relentlessly positive’ slogan is hackneyed but Adern has something that I have never seen in a politician before. She comes across as authentic and positive without compromising on principle and toughness. Women get her. Young people get her. Gen X & Y get her. And because it is amongst those people that the future of NZ actually resides – not with the perceived selfishness of the grey, heavily-propertied baby boomers – that everyone else is going to follow.

  5. Bob Jones suggested part of the reason John Key and Nelson Mandela were so popular was that they were natural smilers. That probably applied to Tony Blair and Winston Peters too. Ardern seems to be a natural smiler?

  6. Agree Brian:’relentlessly positive’ sounds incongruous, fake

    Evidence suggests positive attitudes lead to positive results–like ‘relentlessly positive’ candidates being more likely to be elected. However, I believe this could merely reflect societal prejudice against those with negative or merely realistic attitudes.

    Positivism is a mass delusion of self-hypnosis, mind control and thought control. Simply put, “it requires deliberate self-deception, including a constant effort to repress or block out unpleasant possibilities and ‘negative’ thoughts.”

    Clearly, this is the path that Jacinda Ardern has opted to take as a means of deflecting the Green Party fallout with her ‘relentlessly positive’ campaign to, “always look on the bright side.” However, with the political landscape likely to serve one or two further challenges for Labour to respond to, Ardern will be required to constantly adjust her attitude and revise her perceptions in response to any future difficulties that might arise.

    In my opinion, Jacinda Ardern has been poorly advised with her ‘relentlessly positive’ strategy, which will require her to walk on a very thin political tightrope between now and September.

    I believe it’s scepticism and critical thinking that Jacinda Ardern should be embracing right now, rather than foolishly denying Labour’s political reality.

    The decision by Kennedy Graham and David Clendon’s to quit in protest over the Metiria Turei’s refusal to step down serves as an important reminder that the public should expect and demand a high standard of
    accountability, honesty, and integrity from our politicians.

    In life, we are told to strive to see things as they truly are, as uncoloured as possible by perceptions and feelings. Unfortunately, it would appear that this is something that Jacinda Ardern might need to be reminded of if she truly believes that Labour will be able to form a new government in September.

  7. 7

    Yeah, wrong choice of word. “Dogged” would be more suited. “Relentless” conjures up ‘GTF outta my way, I’m commin’ thru’.

    Whenever I see a gathering of Green MPs, it somehow reminds me of a motley bunch of Bohemians and wayfarers, all gussied-up and ready to go to town. I’m not sure I want enthusiastic drongos anywhere near the levers of power.